Ola Rotimi’s “Grip Am” Tells The Story Of A Cat And Dog; The Humankind
Ola Rotimi’s “Grip Am”, is a cynical but hilarious play, that was staged at the 49th convocation ceremonies of the University of Nigeria.
‘Ise’ meaning ‘Poverty’, played by (Kosi Ejikeme), a poor farmer and husband to ‘Aso’ meaning ‘Argument’ played by (Grace Okonkwo) are always at loggerheads. God decides to take pity on them, and sends an ‘Angel’, played by (James ‘Lucifer’ Ojeba), to grant them one wish, each. Ise asks for power; not the usual sort of power to wreak havoc and mayhem on the society, but a simple one; the power to protect his most prized possession ‘an Orange tree’. All he had to do was simply say the words ‘Grip Am’ and whoever was in any physical contact with his orange tree would be stuck to the tree until he, ‘Ise’ frees the victim. Aso requests that God sends ‘DIE’, played by (Kelechi Moses), to take away her husband, Ise, so she is freed from the shackles of poverty. Both wishes are granted, and Die comes calling for Ise. The unbelievable happens when Ise trickly gums Die to the orange tree. Ise releases Die from the tree on the condition that Die would never come back for him and his wife, Aso. Die leaves defeated, and Ise and Aso are left to continue in their squabbles.
His Imperial Majesty (HIM) Oba Adéyeyè Enitan Ògúnwùsì (Òjájá II), Ọọ̀ni of Ifẹ̀ was thrilled by the riveting performance, saying “the Tongue and Teeth fight every day, yet they live together in the mouth. Debates and arguments are synonymous with human coexistence…one blunt reality of life remains that, conflicts and confrontations are real and are attributes of nature. To excel we must initiate reconciliation…”
The director, Dr. Ikechukwu ‘Iyke’ Erojikwe, breaks away from simple comedy and portrays in vivid forms, through movement and dance, the tribulations and trials of real-life persons embroiled in their peculiar world of choices and conflict. The story is told largely as a detached form of alienation, where the proscenium arch is broken repeatedly; broken not just by the architectural defect of the auditorium, but by the entrances of actors. The director had all actors but one ‘Aso’, come in from the aisles, further killing ‘suspension of disbelief’ and making one conscious of the reality of the drama. Iyke Erojikwe’s style aptly captures a director who dares to break bounds in passing a message.